Flash Fiction Challenge: Missed Connection

new orleans 1999 pomegranateI saw the pomegranate on the windowsill, but the shutters were closed. The contact was not there. Something had gone wrong.

It happens more often that you’d think, and way more often than I like. A missed connection doesn’t necessarily mean the mission has been blown, but it is never a good sign.

The only thing to do in situations like this is to stay calm and remain vigilant. I took the pomegranate and proceeded down the alleyway to the secondary rendezvous point. That’s when I noticed I was being followed…

In 250 words or less, tell us a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Missed Connection”

  1. I had waited long enough—the standard 10 minutes, no more, no less—and took the fruit heading through the alleyway. It wasn’t long before I sensed I was tailed.

    At first, I picked up my pace, but couldn’t shake the feeling someone was behind me, although I couldn’t see anyone. So I slowed down and wondered just how I could get out of this mess if something drastic happened.

    There were no door openings in which to hide, no windows in which to climb through for an escape should the need arise. Then a thought struck me. I needed to destroy the fruit or be caught with the evidence.

    Slowly, I began to peel the outer layer, wishing I had a knife in which to cut it in quarters and a bowl of water in which to get rid of the membrane layer inside from sticking to the yummy juicy seeds so they’d sink to the bottom. But I didn’t have either of those items, so I ended up losing some of the pips to the ground as I ate some.

    When I looked over my shoulder to see who was following me, I noticed the membrane and seeds were gone from the trail I left behind. They were being eaten up as fast as they fell to the ground. It was then I saw who shadowed me—one of the biggest, prettiest parrots I had ever seen, and wondered how a bird could possibly be my new contact.

  2. The pomegranate in my hand was perfect. A gift from my aunt’s family, straight from their orchards. Its deep red skin and heavy weight whispered promises of its sweet flavor.

    I looked down the alley one last time, but there was no sign of him. I could hear my mom calling from the front of the house. No more time left. We had to go.

    Carefully, I placed the pomegranate on the windowsill and eased the wooden shutters closed. I could feel the fear creeping up, as it always did when I missed talking to him. He was my panacea, my angel. How could I do this without our regular meeting?

    You’ll be okay. I’ll be right here waiting when you get back, just like always. So be brave and when you’re all better, I’ll take you to the ocean on my motorcycle.

    Like a video in a repeating loop, the sound of his comforting voice played over and over in my mind, overlaying the image of his sweet smile.

    I took a deep breath, forcing my fears back as I headed to the door. I must endure it. Death stopped being an option the day we met. Now, more than anything, I want to feel the salty sea winds cooling my skin and run through that deep blue water with him by my side.

  3. Whoever was tailing me wasn’t an amateur. They would have gone completely unnoticed by me had I not had years of experience on both sides of this game. This was not my first rodeo, not by a long shot. When people are being followed they tend to make one of two mistakes: If they are armed, as I always am, they turn on their follower for a confrontation. Which is a great plan provided the person tailing you is unarmed or not prepared. That’s a big chance to take when it is you who are the prey. The second is to make a run for it. Great way to get shot in the back, that.

    I kept walking turning on to a side street where I could spy an alley on my right. Perfect! As soon as I was around the corner and out of sight I sprinted for the alleyway, ducking inside hopefully just be for my “friend” turned the corner. I was only a few steps into the alley when a gloved hand covered my mouth and a woman’s voice said, “Keep quiet and give me the pomegranate!”

    I nodded my intention to comply and handed over the fruit. My contact had found me it seemed. Expertly she slid a slim silver rod into the pomegranate, turned a tiny machine head at the top of the rod, and tossed the fruit toward the end of the alley just as our pursuer round the corner. Problem solved.

  4. These missions, without contact with our counter parts, require precision and planning. A missed move like that ends in bloodshed. I knew it wouldn’t be mine, not this time.

    I deliberately slowed my pace. Not to make it appear like I slowed, but enough to draw her out, bring her closer. I would have one chance at this, and couldn’t afford any mistakes.

    I slipped through an open door and turned back wary for her to follow me. But, she walked past. I was wrong. Did I slip into full paranoia? Too many deep cover missions can eat at your mind it seems.

    A few minutes after she passed the doorway, I stepped back out onto the street. Deserted, no one around, where did she go? I doubled back the way I had come from. At the least, they wouldn’t expect it.

    Unable to shake the feeling of eyes all around me, each open window or doorway that I passed opened into a new sense of dread. The weight of my M9 in its shoulder harness gave me comfort. They were on to me. I should have seen the pomegranate for what it was, a sign.

    “Are you lost?” The voice, a woman’s, though gravelly with a thick accent, stopped me cold.

    I sized her up, thin, harmless. I could take her. “Sorry, I missed an appointment with a friend,” I said.

    “Did you need, help?” She asked. The question, paled next to the Luger in her hand.

  5. I was late – but he was later. This was unlike him. Normally, he was very reliable and extremely punctual. Instead, there was a pomegranate on a windowsill. What did it mean?

    He’d said he’d meet me here. There was an urgency in his voice. Why? I glanced again at the red, porous but shiny pomegranate. What was he trying to tell me?

    I scuffed at the ground. I scanned the area. Had he been followed here? Were they watching me right now? Did they know what the pomegranate meant?

    It occurred to me that maybe they’d gotten to him. Maybe this was a set-up. That was ridiculous. I hated when that thought would creep into my head. It’s been years now, and he’d never shown anything but loyalty. I felt like a paranoid jerk every time I let that doubt manifest. It was unfair. We were spies, though – so those types of thoughts were unavoidable. As long as I didn’t verbalize them – or act upon them – that was what mattered. Or would he be able to tell when he looked into my eyes?

    I heard a pebble grind against the pavement behind me. In one fluid motion, I unholstered my Sig and spun to point it at the intruder. Instead, I saw Sasha, trying to wipe what looked like blood off his hands with a napkin.

    “Crap, what happened?” I asked, returning my gun to its holster.

    He held up his hands. “Pomegranates are messy, stupid fruit. You want that one?”

  6. I was headed home. I’d spent forty years as an operative on this red planet. Skyhookers strapped me into acceleration cushions. Narcotic spinal injections would keep me asleep during the ‘instantaneous’ one-year flight and its tortuous G-force maneuverings. I’d ordered an idyllic dream of home, a blue planet under a yellow sun.

    “Wakekup man. Ewes gotta gets offen diss’ere sheeps. Open eure ise, Sakowin.”

    “Not part of my dream package, go away.” Once galactic passengers are injected they don’t get woke-up. Not unless they were criminals. “I ain’t no criminal,” I growled.

    “Boss wants’ta see ewes,” Gorilla-face said.

    An hour later I sat facing Tokwya. Until I resigned a week ago he’d been my boss for the last thirty-five years.

    “I’ll miss my connection on Zebus. You’ve no right…” I began but stopped short. “Man you look like one of the Zombiean walking dead. This is the first time I seen you look rumpled since you took over as planetary High Sheriff. So why’d you yank me off my flight and what do you want?”

    “Sorry fur da scare, Sakowin, but we wanted ta make it look like you were aboard that dory.” Tokeya drew in a breath then let it out. “My kids. They’ve disappeared,” he said tossing me the red sphere from the windowsill behind him. “It’s a holographic DVD. Came yesterday.”

    My jaw clenched tighter as I stared at the kiddy porn and the ransom note.

    “I’ll get them back, sir. On my life.”

    “You’ve a year.”

  7. “Chance”

    Our chance encounter seemed so contrived that even Danielle Steele would have written it off. 

    She saw me, standing there, dripping and pathetic, and offered to share her umbrella.

    “Where are you going?” she asked.

    “The Café du Commerce. It’s my favorite restaurant.”

    “That’s my favorite as well! Are you meeting… Are you dining alone?”

    “I am. It’s my usual Tuesday ritual. Though I had to push it back a day, owing to a business appointment. You?”


    “May I join you?”

    Our dinner lasted until they began putting the chairs on the tables.
    As we strolled toward our parting point, I chanced it. “May I… call you some time?”

    “I believe in in destiny. If Fate wishes for us to be together, She will see that it happens. Perhaps at the market. In the park. Or waiting for the bus again. If you find me—when you find me—place a passionfruit where I may see it. Then I will know it was Her hand.”

    Two days hence, I stood outside an apartment on the Rue du Prony, waiting. Twenty minutes later, she appeared at the window. A small smile broadened into a ray of sunlight when she spied the gift.

    She took it, nodded toward the entrance of her building, and closed the shutters. I smiled, and turned away just as the explosion shattered the afternoon air and, I assumed, the girl.

    I pulled the notebook from my pocket, and crossed another name off my list.

  8. Pomegranate in hand, I continued through the alleyway; my pace stayed the same to not arouse my mysterious pursuer’s suspicion but my mind raced. The agent who was now following me was staying out of my sight. Good. That could work both ways. I knew there was an intersecting alley ahead of me. I quickened my pace slightly as the thin, claustrophobia inducing alley curved left. My feet splashed through the remnants of the afternoons’ rain. I ducked into the intersecting alley and immediately regretted my decision. A rather large gleaming blade with a burly arm attached to it lunged at me.
    I ducked below my attackers aim, driving a rock hard fist into his solar plexus. He gasped for air as I grasped his arm and brought it down onto my upraised knee, breaking it at the elbow. He howled in pain immediately. There was naught I could do about that now, his partner would be here in seconds. He lunged at me again, this time with his left; I grasped his arm and used a simple hip toss on him, throwing him out into the alley directly into his accomplice.
    Both men tumbled to the ground, but the newcomer raised his pistol immediately, prepared to spit death at me.
    To his eternal consternation I was faster. My 9 mm barked twice, and both my pursuers lie unmoving.
    I straightened my tie and exited the alley into the night. After all, Rome was beautiful this time of year.

  9. Waiting from the sheltered safety behind the tree, I scout ahead and cast my eyes towards the old shuttered windows of the shaded building. My heart sips a beat when I see the pomegranate abandoned on the flake peeling, age-darkened sill.

    Instantly I know I’m in the right location, and I must wait within the shade until the rendezvous time arrives, as per the instruction letter. My heart rate quickens with fear, and anticipation. My eyes flicker back and forth between my drop location and my surroundings, eager for movement in the distance, but there is none.

    A passing glance down towards the silver watch upon my wrist informs me I must move now, or risk losing my connection altogether. Swallowing hard, I wipe my clammy hands across my thighs and steadily head towards the window.

    The hair on the nape of my neck prickles, a warning that something is off. Unable to shake it, I search the horizon once more – still there is nothing out of place. I give a single shake of head my head and turn back towards the window. Only now, I see what it is that set me on edge.

    The pomegranate is alone, yes, but the letter that should have been there – the child that should have appeared – is both absent. I drop my heads, and suddenly I see the distinct scuff marks in the dry, rain-parched, sun-baked earth. Drag marks, still fresh, yet out of skill to follow.

    Hope gone, my connection missed.

  10. Crouching still, I swung my head to the left and right, pricking my keen ears in a bid to detect the movement I could only sense. I cursed my lack of supersonic anything; if only. The gloom revealed not a soul behind me, so perhaps I only imagined it. I crept on, taking one careful step at a time…

    A crunch! I turned swiftly, in time to spy a fleeting picture of him. Feeling the pomegranate give a little under the pressure I inflicted, I willed myself to remain calm.

    Not far to go, I urged myself too late for he would never give up; as restless in death as in life. If only his appetite had been satisfied, but I could not help him now. I knew I would forever be doomed to echo this same farce night in, night out, hunted.

    Listless, I padded away, listening to the beat of my feet on the gravel-strewn concrete. The alleyway eeled and I turned with it, only to come face to face with him: my foe, my opponent in every existence. My alter ego, Crow.

    He would always crave my delicious pomegranate. With a meow, I let it fall to the ground in front of him. A squawk escaped his beak before the man with the spade clobbered him over the head, in the same way he always did, night in, night out. Then I, too, vanished into the night, flying on the back of the wind.

    Until tomorrow.

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